On Nov. 7, LaFayette Councilman Beacher Garmany will face off against challenger Vic Burgess for the Ward 1 seat.
The Walker County Messenger sent a Q&A to the candidates. Garmany did not respond.
This is Burgess' first venture in running for a local political office. He works as an advocate for high-risk youth involved with juvenile court in the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit.
Garmany, who is completing his first term, was elected after a runoff election against Robert Wardlaw in December 2013. He filled the Ward 1 seat after Andy Arnold was elected mayor.
(Note: Mayor Andy Arnold, Councilman Ben Bradford and Municipal Court Judge Kenneth S. Maples are running unopposed in the city elections.)
Bio: Born Feb. 16,1974 in Chattanooga, to John and Sue Burgess. Grew up in LaFayette and graduated from LaFayette High School. Graduated from Jacksonville State University in 2001 with a bachelor's degree. Major: Political Science. Minor: History. Award-winning musician.
Marital status: Married to Blakely Campbell Burgess.
Family: Four children, two grandchildren
Clubs/organizations (including churches): Member of Highlands Presbyterian Church.
Education (high school and beyond): Bachelor’s degree from Jacksonville State University.
Current or previous elected offices held: Not applicable
What prompted you to seek election (or re-election), other than "serving the public"? Why are you running? My father passed away in December and always urged me to run for office. Always said "I’d be good at it." While not the only reason for running, this is the main reason for the timing. I think I have a lot of good ideas and a realistic expectation of how to get them accomplished.
What issue is the most critical right now to voters and how will you address it? The economy. Losing Blue Bird was a major detriment to the local economy. We need to do what we can to bring good jobs to the area. The education demographic is something businesses look at when deciding where to locate. We need to partner with Northwestern Technical College to increase our community’s overall education level, enabling and encouraging citizens to obtain GEDs, certificates or degrees. This will improve citizens' lives and the community. We need to do whatever we can to cut red tape for the start up of small businesses. We also need to maximize the potential as a commuter community to keep our best and brightest that may not be able to find work in town but may return home to live and work in Chattanooga or elsewhere.
What other issues are important to the city residents? Infrastructure, education, recreation, addressing illegal drugs and related family and community problems that follow. There are a lot of people in a hole and need help getting out and staying out.
What do you consider as the biggest problem the city faces in the future? I would have to go back to the economy. Hard to fix anything else without addressing that first.
If elected, what other items would you consider high priority? I would like us to become a more pedestrian-friendly city. I feel like the schools in town should be accessible to foot traffic. I would like to see a sidewalk to Gilbert and to the high school. I know that is difficult due to the location. I would also look at getting utility payments online.
Describe changes you would like and how do you intend to make those changes happen? I would ask the council to consider electronic bill pay for city utilities. I would be surprised if this has not been brought up in the past. I would also like for there to be an option for people to round up their bill to the nearest dollar for an emergency fund for the elderly on a fixed income and single parents.
I would love to see us utilize the Depot area more. I recently was in Summerville at an event and there was a large group of people from Chattanooga on a hour and a half stop. I think a disc golf course in town would be a great way to attract people from surrounding areas. I would focus on grants and donations and attempt not to further burden taxpayers with these ideas.
What should voters in your city know about you? I believe I have the personality to deal with diverse personalities in a diplomatic and respectful manner. I will be accessible and available for appointments with citizens at my office. I will be easy to contact and will never ignore a citizen. I have many ideas to improve the city while keeping in mind it is the taxpayers' money and we need to think outside the box when it comes to funding improvements. (Grants, private donations etc.)